The granule size distribution in an anammox-based granular sludge reactor affects the conversion-Implications for modeling

E. I.P. Volcke, C. Picioreanu, B. De Baets, M. C.M. van Loosdrecht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Scopus citations


Mathematical models are useful tools to optimize the performance of granular sludge reactors. In these models, typically a uniform granule size is assumed for the whole reactor, even though in reality the granules follow a size distribution and the granule size as such affects the process performance. This study assesses the effect of the granule size distribution on the performance of a granular sludge reactor in which autotrophic nitrogen removal is realized through one-stage partial nitritation-anammox. A comparison is made between different approaches to deal with particle size distributions in one-dimensional biofilm models, from the use of a single characteristic diameter to applying a multiple compartment model. The results show a clear impact on the conversion efficiency of the way in which particle size distribution is modeled, resulting from the effect of the granule size on the competition between nitrite oxidizing and anammox bacteria and from the interaction between granules of different sizes in terms of the exchange of solutes. Whereas the use of a uniform granule size is sufficient in case only the overall reactor behavior needs to be assessed, taking into account the detailed granule size distribution is required to study the solute exchange between particles of different sizes. For the latter purpose, the application of the widespread software package Aquasim is limited and the development of dedicated software applications is required. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1629-1636
Number of pages8
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology


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